2009-12-10 / Front Page

Chorus concert to reflect changing eras in Jamestown

By Dara Chadwick

Jamestown Community Chorus members were in costume for rehearsal on Monday evening, depicting island garb through the years. The chorus will present its holiday concert this weekend. Photo by Jeff McDonough Jamestown Community Chorus members were in costume for rehearsal on Monday evening, depicting island garb through the years. The chorus will present its holiday concert this weekend. Photo by Jeff McDonough A community can change a lot in the span of 60 years – names and faces are shuffled as families move into and out of the area, buildings appear and disappear, old traditions die, while others are born.

One tradition that hasn’t changed, however, is that of the Jamestown Community Chorus and its role as a vital creative thread in the fabric of the island’s community.

On Saturday evening, during the group’s gala 60th anniversary concert, audience members will get a chance to see just how many lives the chorus has touched – and been touched by – during the last 60 years.

“We’ll have a display of the names of anybody who’s ever sung with us,” said Musical Director B.J. Whitehouse. “There are over 400 names.”

Also on display will be 150 pictures of Jamestowners, Jamestown and the world in general – all reflecting different times, eras and world events. Photos and a timeline of the last 60 years will line the hall, and audience members will have the opportunity to record their own events on the poster board for each decade.

The changing times will also be reflected in the music at the concert, which will include hand bells, a rock band, soloists, duets, sing-alongs and much more.

“It’ll be a retrospective of the last 60 years in music,” Whitehouse said. “There’ll be pop, rock, Broadway and classical.”

Chorus members will also be encouraged to dress in costumes that reflect their favorite era, he said.

“We’ll see poodle skirts and double-breasted jackets,” he said. “I’ll be in tails or a tuxedo.”

Whitehouse will be joined at the concert by Director Emerita Ginny Eastman, former director Joanne Loewenthal, guest conductor Bethany Clarke and accompanist Janet Grant.

Whitehouse, who has directed the chorus for the past 20 years, said he’s seen the group become more stable and financially solvent over the years.

Members come and go, he said, adding that this concert will mark his “almost 80th” performance with the group, which performs two concerts each year – one in May and one in December – as well as for various special events in town, such as Memorial Day and Heyday.

Membership in the community chorus is open to all, Whitehouse said, adding that no musical experience is necessary.

“If I can’t make you into a good singer, I must be a lousy director,” he said.

Members are given CD or MP3 recordings to take home so that they can “listen and learn their part,” Whitehouse said. “We have people in the chorus who can sight-read the spots off a leopard and people who struggle with how to hold the music.”

What’s most important, he added, is that the chorus is a group in which all islanders can take part.

“We never exclude people or make people feel bad,” he said. “After all, ‘community’ comes before ‘chorus’ in our name.”

The Jamestown Community Chorus will perform this Saturday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. and again on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 3 p.m. at the recreation center. Tickets, $12 for general admission and $8 for seniors and children, are available at Jamestown Hardware, Baker’s Pharmacy and The Secret Garden, as well as at the door. All ticket holders are invited to a gala reception at the Portuguese American Citizens’ Club on Sunday, Dec. 13, from 5:50 to 7:30 p.m.

Call 423-1574 for more information.

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